New private equity fund targets microfinance institutions for women
Monday, July 7, 2014
It’s been a while in the making, but this week Women’s World Banking finally closed its first private equity fund to invest in microfinance enterprises that support women.
“It is truly a demand driven fund,”, Mary Ellen Iskenderian, president and CEO of WWB.
Many organizations within the WWB network were finding that in order to grow they needed to become fully-regulated for profit institutions, and that would require both investment capital and some capacity-building support.
WWB, which has long-term relationships with most of those institutions, wanted to continue to stay involved and help to ensure that those organizations could remain true to their social mission, especially their focus on women. But since they didn’t have their own capital to invest, they set about creating the Isis Fund.
One of the key motivating factors is that during the last several years, the number or share of women clients in microfinance organizations began to drop significantly, as did the representation of women in management and board positions, Iskenderian pointed out.
“I think we’ve all embraced this idea that when when women have discretion over their own financial resources they tend to invest in education, health, the improvement of their housing stock, nutrition — the kind of investments in their families and communities that have a much bigger multiplier effect — and they do this to a much greater extent than men do,” she explained. “Continuing to ensure that they have the ability to make investments in their businesses, to save in a safe place, to have insurance that can guard against catastrophic health emergency or a drought or a flood is absolutely essential to maintaining that financial independence.“
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